|Poster:||dead-head_Monte||Date:||May 7, 2011 12:43pm|
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China's Dissident Ai Weiwei Goes Missing - May 4, 2011
China’s best-known artist, Ai Weiwei, remains missing more than a day after he was detained by Chinese police. In March, Weiwei accused the Chinese government of trying to silence dissident voices. Chinese authorities detained him and his wife on Sunday and seized more than 30 computers from his studio. Weiwei is best known for designing the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
In a RELATED STORY...
San Francisco Chronicle Accuses Obama Administration of Intimidation - May 2, 2011
The San Francisco Chronicle has accused the Obama administration of threatening to exclude the paper from access to presidential events after one of the paper’s reporters posted a video online of a protest by supporters of Bradley Manning, the accused U.S. Army whistleblower who is accused of releasing classified records to WikiLeaks, during a recent Obama fundraiser in San Francisco. The White House has denied making such threats, but the Chronicle maintains its claims are accurate.
Why support WikiLeaks? - April 29, 2011
Glenn Greenwald says, "I would point to the fact that, over the last year, the newsworthy scoops that have been generated by WikiLeaks exceed the number of newsworthy scoops of all other media outlets combined. It is virtually impossible to read a story, a news story, about [China or] any of the countries in the Middle East that are undergoing such turmoil, or U.S. military programs in Iraq or Afghanistan, without reference to documents that WikiLeaks has disclosed. And, of course, the allegation is it’s really Bradley Manning who is responsible for that. So the amount of light that has been shed on the national security state, which has been operating under an extreme and dangerous level of secrecy for the last decade, at least, is inconceivable, that nobody could have thought that that level of transparency was possible.
And if you think that government secrecy is one of the gravest threats to how our governments function, that it’s the linchpin of abuse, then you ought to be welcoming transparency that WikiLeaks is bringing, especially if you’re a journalist who ostensibly is devoted to shining light on what the world’s most powerful factions are doing. And if the opposite is true, they’ve been the most hostile—these journalists have—in first calling for WikiLeaks’s prosecution and then in condemning them. And I think it gives the lie to the idea that they’re devoted to transparency and disclosure.
There were months of headlines generated by WikiLeaks about statements that the government made about Islamic terrorists cooperation with the United States that got exposed as being false.
In Spain, it has been an ongoing controversy, and still is, that in essence the Spanish judiciary was intent on launching criminal investigations into the Bush torture program, which swept up their citizens, Spanish citizens. And yet, the Obama administration brought extreme amounts of pressure to bear on Spanish politicians to intervene in what was supposed to be the Spanish independent judiciary and to put a stop to these investigations. Of course, that’s not even on the radar in the United States, but in Spain it’s a major, major political controversy.
And what’s interesting about WikiLeaks is, before they started doing all the U.S.-related leaks, they had spent years exposing deceit in Australia or the cooperation of the government in the financial collapse in Iceland or corruption by toxic-dumping corporations in West Africa, and on and on and on. So, it really has been a worldwide phenomenon, the transparency they’ve brought.
It’s obviously been known that the Obama administration has been very active in squelching criminal prosecutions and investigations of Bush officials domestically, and has directed the Justice Department not to do it. But at the same time, all over the world, they’ve engaged in exactly the same efforts. They’ve prevented American courts from investigating. They had a large scandal, because they told the British government that if their courts disclosed information about American torture, we would no longer share intelligence with them. In Germany, the same thing, where we pressured German politicians not to allow prosecutors to investigate. So, all over the world, people perceive not only that the United States created a torture regime under Bush, but that Obama is now really improperly interfering in their countries’ internal affairs and independent judiciary to try and do everything possible to prevent an investigation.
Well, what was really striking to me from the start, and I’ve said this several times, is that I actually did think that journalists would at least pretend to be a bit sympathetic to WikiLeaks, because journalists like to maintain the pretense—TV journalists do—that they actually are real journalists and that they are interested in uncovering government secrets, which, you know, you sort of have to say that you believe in if you want to be a journalist. And yet, here is WikiLeaks doing exactly that, so you would think that they would at least be somewhat balanced in how they approached it to maintain this pretense, and yet they weren’t. They were as emphatic and vicious in deriding Julian Assange, condemning WikiLeaks as a destructive force, even calling for their prosecution, which would be the gravest threat to press freedoms in decades.
And so, every time I would do these TV shows, I’d usually be on with a member of the political class attacking WikiLeaks and then a member of the media, a journalist, hosting the debate. And yet, the two of them were indistinguishable, because members of the media and political class think identically. And the one in particular that I had on CNN was with a CNN anchor and Fran Townsend, the former Bush national security adviser. It was Jessica Yellin. And both of them were in complete agreement—if you weren’t watching the screen, you wouldn’t know who was talking—that WikiLeaks was an evil and odious enterprise and ought to be stopped, using the force of law. And I just found that unbelievable, not that they thought that way, but that they were so brazen about admitting it.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer was particularly emotional one day when he was talking about WikiLeaks in the wake of the diplomatic cable. And I actually did think, when I first saw him, that what he was angry about would be the revelations of these cables, that we were ordering spying on the U.N., on U.N. officials, with our diplomats, or that the government had lied about its participation in the strikes in Yemen, a whole variety of revelations that show deceit and corruption. But when I started listening to him, what he was actually angry about—furious, actually, literally—was that the U.S. government hadn’t taken more steps to safeguard the sanctity of these secrets. In other words, he was furious that as a journalist he was allowed to discover the truth about what the government was doing, and he was beside himself with rage that the government hadn’t done more to conceal it from him. That was really his principal approach to the WikiLeaks controversy.
We’ve known for a long time, of course, that there were hundreds of imprisoned Guantánamo detainees who were guilty of absolutely nothing. Lawrence Wilkerson, the chief of staff to Colin Powell, said not only were at least half of them innocent, but they knew that half were innocent and didn’t want to release them, because they would complain about the treatment and they would raise it. So we know on broad levels.
But what these documents do is it provides the incontrovertible evidence and the specific proof in various cases. So you have all these cases of people who have been held for years, and in some cases still are held for years, based on nothing but the allegations of people who were tortured or people who Guantánamo officials assessed as being psychiatrically ill or people who were given all sorts of favors in exchange for coming up with very implausible accusations against anyone that they could find. And you even had one case where President Obama recently ordered him detained indefinitely without charges ever, who has been there for nine years. And the government’s own report says we actually have doubts about who this person is, whether he really is the person who we think we have in custody.
And so, you know, Guantánamo itself was such an evil and oppressive and inhumane institution, but the mechanisms used to determine who went there and who stayed there, and the way in which it was kept out of the courts, is probably even the darker spot, because due process is the most basic feature of any kind of civilized government, the idea that you don’t put people in cages without letting them go to a court. And that’s exactly what we didn’t do, and the results are exactly what you would expect, which is arbitrary and entirely unjust detentions.
If you look at the documents in Iraq, for example, the documents in Iraq show that the United States had adopted an official policy to do nothing in the face of torture and abuse by the Iraqi police system, right under our noses. An incredible indictment on the American occupation of Iraq, because we’re there to bring freedom and democracy, and yet we have an official policy to turn the other cheek when there’s torture and detainee abuse by the police force we’re training. The Guardian blared that as a front-page headline, because that was the most significant aspect of it. That same day, the New York Times had as its prominent headline an article about Julian Assange’s personality quirks and his dirty socks and his paranoia.
And you see this over and over. I mean, I think the thing that the New York Times has most touted in the WikiLeaks revelations is the idea that a handful of Arab dictators want the United States to attack Iran, which is hardly surprising. And yet, you know, you can go through document after document, including in these last ones, where The Guardian and The Telegraph blared hundreds of people kept in Guantánamo who were innocent, and you could hardly find any hint of that in the Times. If anything, what they were highlighting was the opposite: that these were very dangerous people, and these files prove that. That’s the New York Times, as usual, looking at the world and reporting the world from the perspective of an allegiance to the U.S. government."
Osama Bin Laden is dead, but will the Patriot Act live on? The Patriot Act was enacted as a supposedly temporary measure in the wake of 9-11. With Bin Laden's passing, the era of the Patriot Act, of spying on Americans who aren't suspected of crimes, of heavy-handed abuse of our dearly held civil liberties, must come to an end.
The Patriot Act is up for renewal this month and a key debate is brewing: Our opponents will argue that his death is evidence that the post-9-11 spying regime was justified. We believe it means that it's time for the government to fix the Patriot Act and start protecting Americans' civil liberties.
We need to act now to make sure we win this fight. Tens of thousands of Demand Progress members have already urged Congress to fix the Patriot Act. Will you ask Congress and the President to return us to the legal norms that existed before 9-11 and start respecting our civil liberties? Please visit this web page to sign on to this petition:
PETITION TO MY LAWMAKERS AND PRESIDENT OBAMA: The perpetrator of 9-11 is dead, The Patriot Act was enacted as a supposedly temporary measure in the wake of 9-11. With Bin Laden's passing, the era of the Patriot Act, the era of spying on Americans who aren't suspected of crimes, the era of blunt abuse of our dearly held civil liberties, must come to an end.The death of Osama Bin Laden provides a unique opportunity to end the Afghanistan War. It's time to bring our troops home. We your help and your support.
Osama Bin Laden’s death is a pivotal moment for the Obama presidency and for the Afghanistan War, and it’s one we can make work for peace. As Council on Foreign Relations Vice President Dr. James Lindsay wrote, “Bin Laden’s death gives the president the political opening to order the sizable draw-down that public opinion polls show that most Americans want.” That’s why your support is critical--our work in the coming weeks will be more important than ever.• Monte's discussion about CNN and Journalism
When we first learned of Bin Laden’s death, we immediately seized the opportunity to pressure the White House to end the war with our new online petition. (If you haven’t yet signed it, please do so!) The response has been incredible. So far, more than 30,000 people have signed, and both the media and Congress have taken notice:
The petition garnered major national and international media attention, including stories on MSNBC and CBS, as well as The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), Russia Today, Roll Call, Truthout, Democracy Now!, Slate and The Huffington Post.
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) called the petition “very important,” and “the wind beneath our wings” as a growing number of representatives unite to call for an exit strategy.
Please sign the Rethink Afghanistan petition today.
|Poster:||NoiseCollector||Date:||May 6, 2011 10:15pm|
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|Poster:||dead-head_Monte||Date:||May 14, 2011 9:25am|
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And, in a related story -
David Gergen, CNN, MSNBC, and The MainStream Press are Bohemian Grove Members!
|Poster:||dead-head_Monte||Date:||May 14, 2011 9:03am|
|Forum:||audio||Subject:||Re: and, in a Related Story|
And, in a related story - Bahrain: From hospital to prison - 12 May 2011
While medical staff in Bahrain are being unfairly targeted by government forces, the rest of the world remains silent.
In the kingdom of Bahrain, to be wounded by security forces has become a reason for arrest, and providing healthcare has become grounds for a jail sentence. During the current civil unrest, Bahraini health facilities have consistently been used as a tool in the military crackdown, backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, against protesters. The muted response from key allies outside of the region such as the US - who has significant ties to Bahrain, including a vast naval base in the country - can only be interpreted as acceptance of the ongoing military assault on the ability to provide and receive impartial healthcare.
While the government and its supporters in Bahrain continue to refer to the protesters as 'rioters', 'criminals', 'extremists', 'insurgents' or 'terrorists', the label that remains conspicuously absent for those who are wounded is 'patient'. Since April 7, when Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) first raised the alarm about the situation, our team has seen patients in villages across the country who were severely beaten or tortured in jail; schoolgirls who have been both physically abused and threatened with rape; and patients in urgent need of hospitalisation who still refuse to be referred due to the high risk of their arrest.
The militarisation of the only public hospital, Salmaniya, persists. Although Ministry of Health statistics show an increase in patients accessing the hospital, tanks and security checkpoints are still manned by masked soldiers at its entrances, searching cars and people. The wounded tell MSF that they are still too afraid to go to the hospital in case of being arrested or beaten in the wards.
Doctors and nurses also continue to be arrested during raids on health facilities, or on their homes at night. In fact, forty-seven medical staff are now being prosecuted by the Bahraini authorities. Within Bahrain, the medical community itself is polarised. Many oppose the blatant militarisation of medical assistance, while others support the military presence in the hospital and the legal charges against fellow health workers. However, the impact on the patients is often disregarded.
By dragging the health system deeper into the political crackdown on dissent, Bahraini authorities continue to undermine patient's trust in health facilities. All of the 88 people that MSF has managed to see in their homes are at risk of being arrested if they were to present themselves at health facilities - simply for being wounded in protests by government forces. Some of them need to go to hospitals for surgery or x-rays, but MSF is unable to safely refer them.
This is because hospitals in Bahrain have received directives that any patient who presents with wounds associated with the current unrest must be reported to the police by health staff. While there is a legal provision to report trauma cases to judicial authorities in many countries, this is designed to assist and protect victims of violence. However, in Bahrain today, the reality is that hospitals are being used to catch and imprison wounded people.
To repeat, the most important paragraph to understand, from above, is this:
"Bahraini health facilities have consistently been used as a tool in the military crackdown, backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, against protesters. The muted response from key allies outside of the region such as the US - who has significant ties to Bahrain, including a vast naval base in the country - can only be interpreted as acceptance of the ongoing military assault on the ability to provide and receive impartial healthcare."
What countries are the Gulf Cooperation Council member States?
• United Arab Emirates
• The Kingdom of Bahrain
• The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia
• The Sultanate of Oman
Didn't the USA bail out Kuwait in 1991? Didn't the USA save all Kuwaitis from Saddam's Iraqi invasion in 1991? Wasn't the mainstream press reporting consistently that the USA and its "coalition of the willing" were preventing the loss of "freedom and democracy" in the Kingdom of Kuwait? Didn't the USA save the Kuwaitis from being tortured by the Iraqi invaders?
here's a copy of my Multi-Entry Visa
Bring Our Troops Home Now!
|Poster:||dead-head_Monte||Date:||May 16, 2011 10:09am|
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Re: Terror and Torture in Bahrain, "The militarization of the only public hospital in Bahrain, Salmaniya, persists. Although Ministry of Health statistics show an increase in patients accessing the hospital, tanks and security checkpoints are still manned by masked soldiers at its entrances, searching cars and people."
Has Erik Prince and Blackwater sent their mercenaries - from their new "home base" in the UAE - into Bahrain? Is Blackwater involved in any of this? Who are these mercenaries? Is Blackwater involved in these crimes against humanity?
By MARK MAZZETTI and EMILY B. HAGER
Published: May 14, 2011
Erik Prince - Blackwater’s Founder - Sets Up Secret Desert Force in The UAE
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.
The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.
Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.
The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.
The U.A.E.’s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country’s biggest foe, the former employees said. The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Photographs show rows of identical yellow temporary buildings, used for barracks and mess halls, and a motor pool, which houses Humvees and fuel trucks. The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials.
In outsourcing critical parts of their defense to mercenaries — the soldiers of choice for medieval kings, Italian Renaissance dukes and African dictators — the Emiratis have begun a new era in the boom in wartime contracting that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And by relying on a force largely created by Americans, they have introduced a volatile element in an already combustible region where the United States is widely viewed with suspicion.
The United Arab Emirates — an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state — are closely allied with the United States, and American officials indicated that the battalion program had some support in Washington.
“The gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help,” said one Obama administration official who knew of the operation. “They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.” Read the complete story on the NY Times web site.
Visit my Peace and Reconciliation item